May 1, 2013 — Late last week, U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) introduced the Dairy Freedom Act as an alternative to the Dairy Security Act. IDFA’s Jerry Slominski endorsed the proposal in this month’s “Processors Perspective.”
April 3, 2013 — Our Processors’ Perspective this month is with Peggy Armstrong of the International Foods Association. She discusses the facts from a petition asking FDA to allow the use of no-calorie sweeteners in flavored milks:
by Peggy Armstrong, IDFA
Recently there has been a lot of misinformation in the news and online about a petition that IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation filed four years ago with FDA. The petition asks the agency to allow the use of no-calorie sweeteners in flavored milks and sweetened dairy products.
Much of this incorrect information is being driven by anti-artificial-sweetener activists, who are scaring consumers by saying that the dairy industry wants to add no-calorie sweeteners to white milk and to “hide” the use of a no-calorie sweetener by not including it on the label. Neither statement is true.
IDFA has been working with National Milk to allay consumer fears, and here are he facts about the petition:
First, the industry is asking FDA to allow “safe and suitable sweeteners” as an option to help reduce the calories and carbohydrates in chocolate and other flavored milks. This would offer an additional choice for consumers who want a lower-calorie flavored milk — and could level the playing field with competitive beverages that are allowed to use the sweeteners.
Second, all ingredients would still be listed on the label.
Third, and most importantly, all milk provides 9 essential nutrients that are important to health and wellness. Most Americans fall short of the recommended servings of milk each day. FDA allowing dairy companies to offer new, innovative choices in the dairy aisle may be one way to help address the issue.
We know that many of you are getting questions about the petition and we want to reassure you that it would not affect white milk.
We will continue to engaging in the media, and provide industry members with facts they can use to discuss the petition. This week IDFA’s Cary Frye, and registered dietitian Keith Ayoob appeared on a segment of the Dr. Oz Show to talk about the petition and to reinforce all of the health benefits of milk.
More information on the petition is available from IDFA and National Milk.
March 6, 2013 — Jerry Slominski, IDFA’s Sr. VP of Legislative Affairs has this week’s Processors’ Perspective:
February 6, 2013 — IDFA’s Jerry Slominski has this week’s Processors Perspective:
We think that the farm bill extension, included in the fiscal cliff agreement, was the right approach for dairy. While we support reforming our dairy policies and agree that Congress needs to take a longer look at our farm program, it is not a failure that Congress did not pass a BAD farm bill. It is an opportunity to focus on what is most important to us as an industry to work together on what we all agree on.
Nearly everyone agrees that dairy farmers need a safety net, then let’s get together and support programs that help producers through difficult financial times. But the divide over supply management is real and wide, despite what you may hear from its supporters.
The evidence that supply management won’t work is big and getting bigger. Supply management hasn’t worked in other countries, and it has not worked here with other commodities. As a result, opposition to the policy is growing and getting bigger. Rather than something that can be forced into a last minute budget bill, dairy supply management is a major impediment and stands in the way of getting a five year farm bill through Congress.
Even the American Farm Bureau Federation seems to be looking for a way towards consensus. During their annual conference, they approved a dairy policy study committee and were quoted when asked about current dairy policy reform efforts, that “we wouldn’t have supply management as part of that package” except that they are worried about available funding for margin insurance on its own. My translation is that they know it is bad policy to limit growth and exports but believe is it necessary for budgetary reasons.
Well, they do not have to worry. The Congressional Budget Office reviewed a proposed margin protection plan for dairy producers that was not tied to the so-called stabilization program, and reported that this plan cost slightly less than the Dairy Security Act with supply management. So funding is not the issue, it can be worked out. It means that you can have a margin insurance program just like other ag sectors, without the government telling you how to run your farm.
That stand-alone approach, authored by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA), would authorize a margin protection program without USDA-imposed limits on production. Consumer groups, taxpayer advocates, the restaurant and food industry, and a growing number of dairy farmers agree that this is a better approach to reforming dairy policy.
(February 1, 2012) DairyLine heard from the Processors’ Perspective Wednesday. IDFA’s Peggy Armstrong reported that it’s not often that milk regulations make the State of the Union address, but President Barack Obama last week provided good exposure for our successful efforts to ensure that milk and milk products were exempted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulations.
In his speech to Congress, the president said: “We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill – because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”
While political pundits may have groaned over president’s joke, the dairy industry was delighted to have one of its hard-won battles spotlighted.
IDFA and the dairy industry had invested 10 years of work to convince the Environmental Protection Agency that milk and milk product containers should be exempt from its oil spill rule. We argued that milk production is already subject to other standards and requirements that will help prevent spills, and that these regulations provide ample protection against dairy equipment deteriorating to the point that it would cause a leak or spill.
In a big win for the entire industry, EPA recognized the dairy industry’s arguments and included an exemption in its final rule, which was issued last spring. The exemption covers milk and milk products, including cheeses, yogurts and ice cream
This is an important issue for the dairy industry. According to EPA’s own estimates, the exemption will save dairy farms approximately $133 million a year in compliance costs, while milk processing plants will save $13 million annually.
Perhaps the moral of this story is that sometimes it is well worth crying – as well as filing comments, testifying and writing letters — over spilled milk rules.
The Processors’ Perspective, by Peggy Armstrong, International Dairy Foods Association
At the risk of preaching to the choir: milk provides nine essential nutrients Americans need, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. And according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, these nutrients are especially important for growing children.
However in a competitive beverage environment, milk is losing ground. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capital milk consumption has continued a slow and steady decline at a rate of about 1percent a year for the past 35 years.
But a recent statistic from USDA suggests this decline might be escalating: total U.S. fluid milk product sales declined 1.4 percent in 2010, which is the largest annual decline in more than a decade. And, unfortunately, this trend has continued into 2011, with U.S. fluid milk product sales down 1.6 percent through June.
It’s important to note that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail price of milk has been higher during most of this period than the same month a year earlier.
So it appears that in a tight economy and a competitive marketplace, consumers are increasingly looking to beverages other than milk.
That is why the last thing the U.S. dairy industry needs is a change to the Federal Milk Marketing Order pricing system that would result in higher Class I prices in the future.
But, that what Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota has proposed in a discussion draft of dairy policy reform legislation. The draft is based National Milk’s Foundation for the Future. NMPF’s own analysis estimates that the minimum fluid milk price would have averaged 51 cents higher in recent years under the proposed federal order changes in the draft legislation.
Everyone in the U.S. dairy industry should pay close attention to dairy policy reforms that could hurt demand. That especially applies to proposed legislation that will increase the cost of fluid milk products. We cannot afford to lose any more ground, and Americans cannot afford to lose the health benefits of drinking milk.
IDFA’s Peggy Armstrong gave the “Processors Perspective” in Wednesday’s DairyLine, reporting that, in August, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute issued research findings on the proposal to require national adoption of higher nonfat-solids standards for fluid milks, which have been required under California state law for decades.
According to the report, the added milk solids, limits consumer choices, raises milk prices, and unnecessarily increases costs for government-run nutrition and feeding programs. Armstrong added that “Contrary to encouraging low-calorie options in the marketplace, the added solids will increase the calories per serving of milk.” One key conclusion of the report, she said, is that such a policy change would result in an average increase of 17 cents per gallon in the retail price of fluid milk products due to the added cost of the additional nonfat solids. The report notes that “Fluid milk processors will have additional capital costs for storage tanks and other equipment that will be necessary to handle the increased need for nonfat solids.”
“Higher standards for nonfat solids in milk have not increased consumption in California,” Armstrong argued, “In fact per capita fluid milk sales are lower in California than in the rest of the nation.” “IDFA believes that dairy policy proposals that could reduce milk consumption and limit exports are not good for the future of the U.S. dairy industry,” she concluded. “Instead we need proposals that focus on ways to make our industry more competitive with other beverage choices in our domestic markets and ways to promote exports in the growing world market for dairy products.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is seeking nominations for its annual Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year award. IDFA’s Peggy Armstrong shares with us the details in this month’s “Processors Perspective.”
Armstrong says that many dairy farmers are modernizing their operations in order to continue to support their families and to provide consumers with high-quality dairy products but “too few farmers get the recognition they deserve for their efforts.”
“Every year IDFA teams with Dairy Today magazine to honor an outstanding U.S. dairy producer,” Armstrong said, “We look for producers that exemplify creativity and forward thinking to achieve greater on-farm productivity and improved milk marketing,” and she invited DairyLine listeners to nominate a colleague, customer or community member. To be eligible, the nominee must be an active, U.S. dairy farm operation. Complete details and the nomination form are available online at www.idfa.org . There is no fee to enter this nomination, but the deadline for entries is Monday, September 20, 2010.
Last year’s winner is Haubenschild Dairy of Princeton, Minnesota. Honored last January, Dennis Haubenschild operates on 1,300 acres with 14 full-time employees and eleven hundred cows. The farm was selected for its continued emphasis on innovative solutions and ideas, particularly in the areas of renewable energy and sustainability, Armstrong said.
He was the first to sell carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange and has teamed with the University of Minnesota to develop the prototype for a hydrogen-fuel cell-technology system. They hope to find ways to fuel the farm’s tractors with hydrogen fuel cells made with biogas from the farm’s digester, she said.
This year’s winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2011 Dairy Forum, which will be held January 23-26, at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, Florida.
On the farm, milk comes in only one flavor but, as you take a walk down your grocery store aisle or a school lunch line, you’ll see many more, according to Michelle Matto, Assistant Director, Nutrition and Labeling at the International Dairy Foods Association. Speaking in Wednesday’s “Processor’s Perspective,” Matto made the point that flavored milk encourages kids to drink milk.
Chocolate has been joined by strawberry, vanilla and other flavors to tempt the tastebuds of the American consumer, according to Matto, while providing all the nutrient benefits of milk.
Chocolate, and other flavors of milk, start with white milk and have flavoring and sweeteners added, she said. In general, they meet the standard of identity for milk, including the required levels of milk solids, and are available in a variety of calorie and fat levels.
There are also rich “milkshake” type products for people looking for a special treat and there are fat-free, no sugar added products for those that want great taste and nutrition with fewer calories, according to Matto.
She reported that, in 2007, almost 4.4 million pounds of flavored milk was sold in American retail stores; or about 8 percent of total retail milk product sales. Per capita consumption was 14.5 pounds, an increase from about 12 pounds per person in 2000 and “is an area of growth amid the continued decline in milk consumption,” she said.
While children can select from a variety of milks, Matto said it’s not surprising that most milk sold in schools is flavored, with the majority being lowfat. “This is a great option for children to enjoy the nine essential nutrients of milk,” she said, and “It’s particularly important for milk to be attractive to children because most kids over the age of 8 are not drinking enough.”
Dairy processors are working to formulate new flavors and products with different levels of fat, sugar and calories to meet the demands of consumers, especially school districts, Matto reported, and these products may use different flavoring systems, or a combination of caloric and non-caloric sweeteners, while still meeting the standard of identity for milk.
“By providing more choices, milk can better compete with other beverages,” she concluded. “When adults and children drink more flavored milk, they drink more milk, getting the nutritional benefits and supporting the dairy industry.”
Dairy processors are on board with the federal government buying additional dairy products to help struggling dairy farmers, according to Peggy Armstrong of the International Dairy Foods Association.
“When you take a look at how this funding could be used by one program, USDA’s Women, Infant and Children’s program, or WIC, it’s clear that this approach has long-term benefits for consumers, dairy producers and processors.”
The WIC program provides nutrition education and retail food vouchers to almost 10 million low-income mothers, infants, and children, according to Armstrong, and dairy products are a critical part of its nutritional food packages because they provide nine essential nutrients and the protein and calcium that are especially important for women who are pregnant and young children.
IDFA estimates that approximately $2 billion will be used by WIC participants to buy dairy products, Armstrong reported, however due to changes in the program, WIC does not allow yogurt to be included, despite a recommendation to do so from the Institute of Medicine. In 2008 USDA said it would cost an additional $88 million a year to allow for the yogurt purchases, which was not part in the budget.
“Today, we have the opportunity to use some of the emergency appropriation to add yogurt to the WIC program,” Armstrong said. “Offering yogurt as a dairy option for mothers that use WIC would introduce a whole new generation to its nutritional health benefits, increase demand for milk in many states, and help bolster long-term demand for dairy products among a segment of the population that so critically needs it.” “It is time to ask USDA to include yogurt as an allowable dairy product under the WIC program,” she concluded.